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Advice needed from Mac users with PC's

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Advice needed from Mac users with PC's

Postby MonsterMan on Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:14 am

My roommate needs a new computer. His computer use will mainly be the following:
Web browsing/usenet downloads
CD Burning
Photo editing (Photoshop/GIMP, he's an artist).

My options are 1) Build a cheap pc (Athlon XP/64), or 2) Have him get a Mac Mini.

Macs advantage: supposed better performance for Photoshop-type apps; security, ease of use - those last two mean less "help" from me, which is a good thing.

So, knowing nada about Macs, I ask:
Can Linux and OS X be dual-booted (Linux is basically a must, due to huge software base, plus he's starting to like GIMP more than Photoshop)?
So just how fast (or not) would a mini be, compared to a pc?
How good are the CD/DVD burning apps under OS X? Would it be better to use K3B (Linux) to burn stuff?
Is USB scanner/printer/HDD/Burner support good, bad, or so-so?
The Mini is basically going to be a zero-upgradablity, closed system, correct?
How's the free/open-source software library? Limited to mostly Linux?
How's Linux/GIMP performance going to compare to OS X/Photoshop?
Since OS/X is based on BSD, can X11+KDE be run on top of/instead of OS X's native interface - thus negating the need to dual-boot with Linux?

And finally: any random thoughts/suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any advice. Please no Mac or PC bashing; each system does have it's merits.

Edit: Ok, I see GIMP is available under OS X. Neat!
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Postby hoxlund on Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:18 pm

ill pass this along to aviationwiz, hes got a dual G5 and 3.4Ghz P4 system he built
Last edited by hoxlund on Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby aviationwiz on Thu Mar 03, 2005 2:45 pm

That's a 3.4GHZ P4 there hox, ;)

Anyways, I'll try and help you out as best I can.

I have never tried dual booting Linux & OS X, so I don't know for sure, but I don't see why not. There is also the GIMP for Mac: http://www.macgimp.org/

Which I see that you found too when I saw the edit line in your post.

When I tried out a Mac mini at the Apple Store about a month ago, I noticed they were pretty solid systems, and the speed was good. Nothing like the G5 of course, but for what he would be doing on it, it should work fantastic.

For CD & DVD Burning, I use Roxio Toast, it works great for what I do with it, burning images, data cd's, etc.

External device support is very good. I'll be honest, I never figured out how to get a printer hooked up on a PC to print over the network from the Mac, but hooked up directly to the computer, it's a piece of cake. For scanners, I believe both Epson & Canon models work with it.

It is basically a no upgrade system, you might be able to upgrade RAM, but that would be it, and I'd recomend starting off the machine with 512MB RAM, 256 just isn't enough.

For software, I'd recomend checking out: http://www.versiontracker.com

Linux/GIMP to Panther/Photoshop performance, I wouldn't know.
As far as running KDE on OS X, good luck, I highly doubght it can be done.

As you already mentioned, the Ease of Use & Security of the Mac makes it easier for everyone, which is why I highly recommend it.

Feel free to ask any other questions.

I'd also recommend the forums over at http://www.macrumors.com
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Postby MonsterMan on Thu Mar 03, 2005 3:01 pm

Thanks for the advice. I'd be seriously considering it a G5 for myself, if it weren't for the games issue (games, Nero, and DVD Shrink are the ONLY reasons I'm still using Windows over Linux). If QuickTransit actually had a consumer version I'd be all over a Mac (running Linux, of course). That software holds SO much promise - it's too bad they're only selling it for embedded apps. I suppose there is some (very slight) chance that Apple could buy it and intergate it into their next OS. That'd be sweet; near-native speed on Windows, Linux and Mac apps. QuickTransit is so much better than VMWare/Virtual PC...
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Postby MonsterMan on Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:28 pm

aviationwiz, got a couple of questions for ya :)
1) Any easy-to-use, FAST DVD->DivX apps? Not worried to much about actually ripping them, since I could use a PC and drop it onto an external HDD (or I could use DVDBackup)...

2) Do you know of any PowerMac clone makers? Or mobo/cpu suppliers? Since I don't want/need OS/X, building a PowerPC based system with mostly-IBM PC type parts would be helpful (and cheaper!)...

I'm looking through everymac.com right now; anything else to be aware of?

The FPU performance of the PowerPC looks great; a dually would be better still. I have a certain (home-grown) app that would benfit greatly from increased FPU horsepower; plus DVD->DivX conversion should be faster.
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Postby LoneWolf on Fri Mar 04, 2005 3:29 pm

Nobody makes Apple clones anymore, the final ones to do so used PowerPC 604e chips which date back to the late 90's...

I use both Macs and PC's. I think they're both good platforms, each with their own good uses. The Mac Mini is a nice machine and easy to use.

However, if you compare the Mac Mini in Photoshop (probably Gimp as well) to the Athlon 64, the A64 will spank it hard. The Mac Mini is a G4 processor running at 1.25 or 1.42GHz. The base level Athlon 64 runs at 1.8GHz, has more cache, and an integrated memory controller that runs at a higher bus speed. If you wanted to compare apples to apples (no pun intended) a single 1.8GHz G5 CPU such as in the iMac G5 or single-CPU G5 tower would be much closer. Plus, they handle upgrades far better. The Mac Mini is a good computer for the right uses; it just sounds a little weak for your friend.

If you want to do a lot of CD burning on the Mac, you'll probably want to pick up a copy of the latest version of Toast by Roxio, though if you're doing mainly audio CD's iTunes and OS X should do okay. Support for hardware is fine, but if you buy a Mac Mini, consider carefully...it uses a notebook HDD, if you're not a hardware geek buy the 80GB version immediately rather than the 40GB. Also, buy it with as little RAM as you can, and when you get it, follow guides online set up by others showing you how to take it apart, and upgrade the RAM yourself (sell the original module on Ebay or keep it as a spare); you'll want at least 512MB and the Mac Mini only has one RAM slot. You can upgrade the Mac Mini if you do it carefully, but you'll spend enough that in the end, you could have built an Athlon 64 or bought an iMac G5 (upgrade options are mainly a 7200rpm notebook hard disk, or RAM; graphics card is non-upgradeable and if you want DVD burning capabilities or bluetooth/wireless you should buy them immediately as part of the Mac Mini configuration).

I'd guess you could dual-boot Linux and OS X, but I've never done so myself, there's probably some guides on the `net. One other note: I'm not sure I'd buy a Mac without buying the Applecare warranty, as it's not just something you can service on your own. Factor this into the price when you look at buying a Mac, because all it takes is one repair covered by Applecare and it has paid for itself.

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